SSDs might cause double the CO2 emissions of HDDs

Daniel Sims

Posts: 576   +21
Staff
In context: SSDs are becoming increasingly indispensable due to their speed advantages over standard disk drives, but a new study alleges SSDs cause significantly higher carbon emissions than HDDs despite being more energy efficient. However, different use case scenarios may change that picture.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of British Columbia recently published a study alleging that solid state drives can lead to double the carbon emissions of hard disk drives (HDDs). The study analyzes the carbon impact of different devices and components across their lifespans.

The researchers admit that operating SSDs consumes less energy than HDDs, but claim that manufacturing SSDs results in far higher emissions. Most of an SSD's carbon emissions have already occurred before anyone ever starts using it, assuming the manufacturing processes still rely primarily on fossil fuels.

The study argues SSDs have the highest emissions of any component in systems incorporating them, comprising 38 percent of a PC's total emissions. In comparison, an HDD might be responsible for 9 percent of a system's emissions, a GPU 11 percent, a CPU 4 percent, a motherboard 17 percent, the RAM 9 percent, a PSU 4 percent, and a chassis 6 percent.

That percentage presumes a 512GB SSD, but interestingly, it's claimed that SSDs' carbon cost during manufacturing increases linearly with capacity...

Comparing the theoretical emissions of both kinds of storage from manufacture to end-of-life, the study concludes that over a 5 to 10-year period, an HDD will use more energy than an SSD, but less than went into building the SSD.

The researchers assumed 20 percent active cycles and 80 idle cycles across the lives of both storage mediums. It's possible that under similar workloads, an SSD's speed would lead to fewer active cycles, increasing its energy efficiency lead over an HDD.

The study suggests methods for reducing emissions from storage. Designing longer-lasting SSDs is an obvious solution, as it could lead to fewer being made. Recycling and reusing flash storage (as well as other hardware components) also helps the environment.

Furthermore, SSDs aren't always the best storage for every situation. HDDs are still significantly cheaper per gigabyte, which is why it's smart for users and companies to employ them for cold storage (keeping a lot of data you don't use often), while reserving SSDs for frequently-used files. Energy concerns are just one more advantage of the practice.

Permalink to story.

 

yRaz

Posts: 4,604   +5,532
Honestly, I'm more concerned about forests being destroyed for land development.
Yeah, we can mitigate CO2 but not killing the forests. Something I always found ironic was that most deforestation in South America is from avocado farming, a favorite of vegetarians who are disproportionately liberal. The people who are against deforestation the most eat a diet that encourages deforestation.

We live in really unfortunate times
 

0dium

Posts: 334   +395
Yeah, we can mitigate CO2 but not killing the forests. Something I always found ironic was that most deforestation in South America is from avocado farming, a favorite of vegetarians who are disproportionately liberal. The people who are against deforestation the most eat a diet that encourages deforestation.

We live in really unfortunate times
Really? Should read about that
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,604   +5,532
I would first like to point out that cattle production is an absurd reason for deforestation. Most land in the US used for cattle farming cannot be used for other means. It is not fertial soil and is basically useless for anything other than letting cattle graze and pumping them full of corn

The other reason I find what you cited to be untrue is that soy is not only unprofitable but also not in demand in countries aside from eastern Asian countries. Who, have a lower cost of labor.

While I don't doubt that these things go on in South America, I do read those statistics with severe prejudice.
 

waclark

Posts: 534   +342
I would first like to point out that cattle production is an absurd reason for deforestation. Most land in the US used for cattle farming cannot be used for other means. It is not fertial soil and is basically useless for anything other than letting cattle graze and pumping them full of corn

The other reason I find what you cited to be untrue is that soy is not only unprofitable but also not in demand in countries aside from eastern Asian countries. Who, have a lower cost of labor.

While I don't doubt that these things go on in South America, I do read those statistics with severe prejudice.
Well, you may not like the facts, but they are facts. Don't like the link I posted? How about these? Also, out of all the Google searches I did, avocados never came up as a top crop related to deforestation. Soy and palm oil, along with grazing for cattle came up a lot. Especially with respect to S. America.

 

bviktor

Posts: 946   +1,380
"The researchers admit that operating SSDs consumes less energy than HDDs, but claim that manufacturing SSDs results in far higher emissions. "

Sooo, over time they produce less CO2, got it.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,604   +5,532
Well, you may not like the facts, but they are facts. Don't like the link I posted? How about these? Also, out of all the Google searches I did, avocados never came up as a top crop related to deforestation. Soy and palm oil, along with grazing for cattle came up a lot. Especially with respect to S. America.

did you even check the links you posted?
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,066   +8,093
There are so many major contributors to pollution, global warming, etc., that this seems to be a minor issue. An issue, no doubt, but a very minor one at best ......
 

DixieFatline

Posts: 17   +32
Remember guys. Heating your homes in the winter causes massive release of CO2. Remember not to heat your homes too much. Keep the temperature around 17-18 degrees celcius. Any higher and you are literally causing the poles to melt.
 

waclark

Posts: 534   +342
"The researchers admit that operating SSDs consumes less energy than HDDs, but claim that manufacturing SSDs results in far higher emissions. "

Sooo, over time they produce less CO2, got it.
You missed the first part of that; I highlighted the key part....So, no, over time they do not.

"a study alleging that solid state drives can lead to double the carbon emissions of hard disk drives (HDDs). The study analyzes the carbon impact of different devices and components across their lifespans."
 

PEnnn

Posts: 852   +1,025
Yeah, we can mitigate CO2 but not killing the forests. Something I always found ironic was that most deforestation in South America is from avocado farming, a favorite of vegetarians who are disproportionately liberal. The people who are against deforestation the most eat a diet that encourages deforestation.

We live in really unfortunate times

OMG!! Now we know: It's the Avocado eating liberals and vegetarians that are destroying the planet!!

Meanwhile, the usual righties / oil and coal shills (sorry for the redundancy) are still pushing for more coal and oil welfare funds, because they are super clean and produce nothing that destroys the planet!!
 

waclark

Posts: 534   +342
There are so many major contributors to pollution, global warming, etc., that this seems to be a minor issue. An issue, no doubt, but a very minor one at best ......
It's hard to say exactly what the impact is. The article didn't talk about PC CO2 emissions in aggregate. A quick search shows that PCs put out about 1,000 lbs of CO2 per year. This articles claims that 38% of that can come from SSDs. Some 342M PC shipped in 2021. If 50% of them have SSDs that's potentially a lot of CO2.
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,138   +1,336
Who in the hell sits around thinking about this BS? We have a critical shortage of CO2 right now!
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,512   +5,920
OMG!! Now we know: It's the Avocado eating liberals and vegetarians that are destroying the planet!!

Meanwhile, the usual righties / oil and coal shills (sorry for the redundancy) are still pushing for more coal and oil welfare funds, because they are super clean and produce nothing that destroys the planet!!
More like "were not in favor of destroying out economey just because some hypocritical city hippies have a big sad today".

Positive feelings and rainbows dont grow your food, provide your power, or move the products you buy.
It's hard to say exactly what the impact is. The article didn't talk about PC CO2 emissions in aggregate. A quick search shows that PCs put out about 1,000 lbs of CO2 per year. This articles claims that 38% of that can come from SSDs. Some 342M PC shipped in 2021. If 50% of them have SSDs that's potentially a lot of CO2.
INB4 some california senator creates a bill requiring limiting PC sales to combat "climate change".
 

azicat

Posts: 130   +147
I read the source paper (heaven forbid) and it looks like the carbon footprint is related to what electricity generation is available to the specific fabs producing the SSD silicon. Ergo its manufacturing carbon footprint can be mitigated ‘simply’ by pivoting to renewable sources, where possible. Sounds more like a policy rather than engineering problem.
 

Godel

Posts: 305   +192
"The researchers admit that operating SSDs consumes less energy than HDDs, but claim that manufacturing SSDs results in far higher emissions. "

Sooo, over time they produce less CO2, got it.
They cause about eight times the amount of CO2 during manufacture compared to a HDD, and depending on their time in service may never catch up by operational efficiency.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,468   +2,143
More like "were not in favor of destroying out economey just because some hypocritical city hippies have a big sad today".

Positive feelings and rainbows dont grow your food, provide your power, or move the products you buy.
They do not care. I cannot express strongly enough how little they care.

The franken-ideology of the modern "woke" "leftist" is predicated on what I term the "aspirant commisar" strategy: their doublethink, their virtue signaling, all of it is keyed towards this strategy that if they just navigate the system well enough, appease the right apparatchiks, grift the right managers, say the right things, and get seen doing the right motions, they'll get to be the ones that keep their jobs and livelihoods; such as they are. The rest of their energy is spent cynically crab-bucketing everyone else. It's a shameful, desperate, and miserable life, which is why they're filled with such endless reserves of anger, resentment, and self-loathing.

INB4 some california senator creates a bill requiring limiting PC sales to combat "climate change".
This is absolutely already in the works. It's why I told gamers that using environmentalism as a cudgel against crypto miners was a bad idea; this is the leading edge of that double-edged sword. Hope you enjoy RAM rationing and applying carbon footprint offset credits to your CPU purchases.
 
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